Back To Reviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush

Artist: A Tribe Called Quest
Album: The Low End Theory
Label: Zomba Recording, Jive
Production: A Tribe Called Quest, Skeff Anselm
Guests: GUESTS
Stats: 1991; 14 Tracks at 48mins:04secs
Reviewed by: Eitan Prince

Following hard on the heels of their promising 1990 debut (People's Instinctive Travels ...), A Tribe Called Quest unleash a polished, fine-tuned sophomore effort, widely accepted as a Hip Hop classic. The Native Tongues flavour (TM) - see Jungle Brothers, De La and others - is in full effect on this release with its signature jazz samples and obscure rhymes. Sadly, much of the Native Tongues playfulness from the previous album was forgotten and lyrically, a far more serious - if not bitter - Q-Tip and Phife Dawg step to the mic. Where they celebrated the nightlife (After Hours), safe sex (Pubic Enemy) and youthful misadventures (El Segundo) in 1990, this was replaced with concerns about the shady entertainment industry (Show Business, Rap Promoter), the dangers of date rape (The Infamous Date Rape) and superficial women (Butter). An otherwise sombrely textured album is lit up by the uptempo grooves 'Check The Rhime' - a brilliant back 'n forth, tug 'o rhyme exchange between Tip and Phife, and the massive posse cut 'Scenario' (featuring Leaders of the New School) has more bounce than 30 kids on a jumping castle, while Tribe momentarily return to the playful Tongues vibe with some neck-snapping freestyle lyrics.

There literally isn't a weak cut on this album and despite its bitter undertone, the 'Low End Theory's' laidback production is tasty enough to hold your attention, while both MC's show vast improvements on their mic skills. There remains little else to say other than reiterate that this album is a must for collectors of good music.

Standout tracks: Check The Rhime, Scenario, Butter, What? [10/10]

<<Back to the FlipSide Reviews Archive